Deputy Sheriff Michael Collister was hired by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office in 1983. He served on the SWAT team, won awards, saved lives. In May 2010, after 27 years on the force, he was diagnosed with stage-IV bile duct cancer -- essentially a death sentence. According to police, his friend spent last December shaking him down for the pain medication he'd been prescribed but was too weak to defend.
Collister died two weeks ago. His "friend," 46-year-old Palm Beach County Lt. Dan Burrows, has now been charged with theft, drug possession, and exploitation of a disabled adult, and if the rest of the world is lucky, he'll go to prison for around 15 years if he's convicted.
According to court documents, Collister's wife, Bettee, told police she was suspicious that Burrows had a drug problem, a suspicion she said was confirmed when she discovered four oxycodone pills were missing from her husband's nightstand, pills she said Burrows took when he went into their room under the guise of giving their dog a treat.
After the incident, the Collisters stashed the pills in a gun safe in their garage, a move that seems to have worked until New Year's Eve, when Bettee Collister had to go out and leave her husband in the care of her nephew. Det. John Van Houten describes what happens next in an affadavit:
Dan Burrows went into Mike Collister's bedroom, woke him up and brought him into the living room. Dan Burrows told Mike Collister that he had called and requested a Chaplin respond to visit with Mike Collister. This upset Mike Collister at which time Mike started to cry and returned to his bedroom. Dan Burrows followed Mike Collister into the bedroom and about 10 minutes later, Mike and Dan exited the bedroom and entered the garage, where the gun safe is located.
When Bettee Collister got home, she found a "physically and mentally exhausted" Mike Collister sitting on the edge of his bed. He said, according to the report, that "Burrows forced him to open the safe and he (Burrows) took a 308 caliber sniper rifle along with a 30-30 caliber rifle... In addition, Mike Collister stated Dan Burrows also opened several prescription pill bottles and took handfuls of pills."
His wife asked Collister if he had given Burrows the pills.
"No," Collister said. "He took them."
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